Berlin: The head of the United Nations, Antonio Guterres, warned on Friday that the rising food crisis throughout the world threatens to trigger a “catastrophe.”
According to U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, the conflict in Ukraine has worsened the impact of inequality, the coronavirus pandemic, and climate change, resulting in an “unprecedented global food crisis” that already affects hundreds of millions of people.
In a video address to representatives from dozens of developed and developing nations assembled in Berlin, he warned that there was a “serious possibility” that several famines would be proclaimed in 2022. And things could become worse in 2023.
However, as farmers around the world struggle to deal with increased fertiliser and water prices, Guterres observed that harvests in Asia, Africa, and the Americas will suffer.
“This year’s food access issues could become next year’s universal food shortage,” he said. “No country will be immune to the social and economic repercussions of such a catastrophe.”
Guterres said U.N. negotiators were working on a deal that would enable Ukraine to export food, including via the Black Sea, and let Russia bring food and fertiliser to world markets without restrictions.
He also called for debt relief for poor countries to help keep their economies afloat and for the private sector to help stabilise global food markets.
The Berlin meeting’s host, German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock, said Moscow’s claim that Western sanctions imposed over Russia’s invasion of Ukraine were to blame for food shortages was “totally invalid.”